Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Are many evangelicals spiritual jihadists?

Notice right off the bat that I say many and not all evangelicals are spiritual jihadists. A Jihad is a holy war waged on behalf of Muslims, but is there a "holy war" being waged by evangelical fundamentalist Christians? I think so. No, they do not wage physical war. They are waging a war against people in the spiritual realm but it has a real physical effect. Please do not confuse what I am referring to as spiritual warfare. It is not that. This is a war that aims at killing the spirit, and the weapon of choice is the scripture. The purpose behind killing the spirit is to gain conformity to the norms of the group. It, in a nutshell, is designed to control.

You're probably saying to yourself, "isn't that a good thing?" The answer to your question is absolutely not! These evangelicals are using the scripture as a weapon in a way that it was NEVER meant to be used. Paul said that the letter kills while the Spirit gives life. How is the scripture used as a killing letter? The answer is simple. When it is viewed in a legal constitutional way, with a strong emphasis on literal interpretation, it becomes a lethal weapon. This has been brought to the forefront of my mind based on the reaction to Eugene Peterson and Bishop T. D. Jakes. They both have been mentioned in the press recently with what could be best described as evolving views on homosexuality and the church. And, they both have made public statements about it, and both are moving backward from what they originally said.This has been the result of this spiritual jihad in my view.

I have no doubt that their views are evolving. And, I think it is in no small part because of the work and witness of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Holy Spirit is active in many Christian pastors and theologians today working to show that the legal constitutional understanding and interpretation of scripture is a grossly damaging error that needs major correction. It is sad to me that they can be manipulated by these vocal spiritual jihadists. Jesus and his first century followers went to great lengths, and he was crucified in part, because of his efforts to change the view of the scripture from a legal constitutional document to a redemptive narrative. There is a lot of nuance in what he taught and much of it was necessary because of the legal constitutional understanding that the first century rabbis and Jews had. In fact, he came on the scene at a time when the legal constitutional reading of scripture was at its zenith. He chose rather to tell them that the purpose of the scripture was to point to him and thus bring life. He told the pharisees that the legal constitutional reading of scripture they were using did not, and would not bring life. Life only came through him and his Spirit. You can find the proof text for this in John 5:39-40 & Luke 24:27; 43-45.

The nuance comes into play with the two different covenants. The first being the Old Covenant or Mosaic Covenant for Jews and their converts only, and the New Covenant for all who would believe in Jesus as the Israel of God.... in other words, Israel the nation, and its scripture, was meant to point to Him alone. Much of what Jesus said is misconstrued because what he said was strictly to people under the Old Covenant before the New Covenant was instituted. Furthermore, Paul and the other writers of the first century scriptures were writing to a transition period, where the Old Covenant and the New Covenant were concurrently in operation. Since the destruction of the temple, the fulfillment of Jesus prophecy, there is no apparatus for the operation of the old covenant, so it is either the new covenant or nothing.

Even in the transition period before the destruction of the temple, Paul had already explained liberty of conscience on various matters. They had liberty of conscience on what to eat or not eat and what days to acknowledge and esteem. People today decide things like participating in war or not as a matter of the liberty of conscience. In my view, a loving monogamous couple, who have faith in Jesus can be a matter of the liberty of conscience no matter what their particular sexual preference is. I will let others debate the verses and terms that are used in the scripture that the debate centers on. However, the bottom line of all bottom lines is that Jesus and his first century followers who wrote the New Testament scriptures changed the focus from a legal constitutional document to the story of redemption. They did that in two ways. First, they stated that Jesus was the sole purpose and goal of the scripture, and second, they redefined the phrase "word of God" from Torah to the gospel and also Jesus the gospel made flesh.

Further, they explained a different dynamic for obedience. The new dynamic was to love. While some of the ways of loving would overlap with the commandments, the catalyst for doing so was peace with the Father via the gospel of grace. Peace with the Father would result in love for the Father that would translate into actions. I am convinced that the main focus that all Christians should have, and I include evangelicals in that group, should be the gospel of grace. That is the supernatural, spiritual catalyst for transformation.

However, evangelicals with a bent on legal constitutional interpretation of scripture continue to use the scripture as a weapon and it truly is lethal to the Spirit. It is a jihad that has overarching consequences and it will over time lead to the demise of the gospel.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When you "Do Not Know" what you "Do Not" Know; Making the paradigm shift accessible Part 1

This blog chronicles my paradigm shift. Once the paradigm shifts, it is easy to look back and marvel at the fact that you held the former paradigm in the past. So to be clear let's look at the definition of paradigm found at dictionary.com. For the purposes of this blog and my "paradigm shift" this definition is the operative one: "A framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community... and it goes on to include... such a cognitive framework shared by members of any discipline or group." I certainly believe that theology and theological doctrine falls squarely within the confines of this definition. To describe it further in theological terms, a paradigm is a lens that one sees theology through. It includes hermeneutics and exegesis. Most importantly, it deals with the way in which we look at and interpret scripture.

In my experience, evangelical doctrine and dogma have a limiting effect on the paradigm. I do not want to make this post a dictionary per se, but I feel that it is necessary to define dogma to be certain that the meaning is clear for the title. Again, the kind folks at dictionary.com define dogma this way: "An official system of principles and tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior etc. as of a church, ... prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true by a group." I want to emphasize "prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true" for my purposes here in stating that dogma, more than any one other thing stands in the way of a paradigm shifting.

So then, the title of the post "do not know" what one "does not" know explains the dynamic of being so afraid to question dogma that one becomes stuck in a paradigm without a way to shift it even if a shift seems indeed necessary. I believe that Christianity in general is standing on the precipice of a paradigm shift that seems as fearful as a dark abyss, but is in reality, merely a step through a curtain into another dimension of greater understanding.

Here are the facts for me: In the past, I saw a lot of contradictions in the scripture that dogma had a way of dismissing that did not seem to make sense. However, can one dare to to question dogma and the authoritarian position it holds? If one dares to question dogma, immediately one is accused of not truly believing, not being a true and good follower of Christ and on and on. When one has heard a paradigm over and over it becomes impossible to change. When a paradigm begins to change, the first thing to go is the norms that groups establish with respect to appearance. Suits and ties are discarded in favor of less formal attire. However, this does nothing to free one up from restrictive and unhealthy dogma, and even more to the point, restrictive and unhealthy theology.

I hear repeatedly people saying that the scripture plainly teaches this or that. The truth however is that the paradigm insists that the scripture teaches this or that. How can someone realize that the paradigm with which they look at the scripture is faulty when they cannot ever challenge the paradigm? It is funny, because since I have had the paradigm shift, I see that it plainly teaches what I have come to believe. Now, have I got some things wrong, or do I not see it in totality? Of course I do not. It is only a logical conclusion that I do not have it ALL right, but so much of my paradigm rings true, and ALL of the apparent contradiction disappears.

What I observe is this: There are many people questioning much of dogma, but it is on the fringe, and this questioning does not question basic doctrinal tenets. Or, and this is equally detrimental, doctrine is questioned so much that the divinity of Christ, salvation, and a supernatural relationship with God is dismissed as superstition. In any event, the gospel as it was presented by the first century saints is compromised. What do I mean you ask? I mean the gospel (good news of the grace of God) which was the main focus of Paul and the other New Testament authors is neglected in favor of a different gospel. It seems to always include some kind of performance standards and required good works. Let me just say this. There is a performance standard in my paradigm as well. It demands that you believe God's declaration that he was indeed in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and that the full reconciliation was accomplished in full. The required performance is to rest in that fact, and rely completely on God's grace.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Three Errors That Hinder the Effectiveness of the Gospel; Part 2

Two:
The second error that hinders the effectiveness of the gospel is not giving Ephesians 1:3-7 the importance it demands. Let's look at what it says to us: Ephesians 1:3-7 NKJV  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  (4)  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,  (5)  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,  (6)  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.  (7)  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." The three phrases and clauses that I have emboldened and underlined become very important in recognizing the error.

The first underlined phrase "before the foundation of the world," places the timing on subjects of this passage. It was before the foundation of the world, in other words, it was before creation. So then, we can see that God's purpose in creation was redemption... let me emphasize that, God's purpose in creation was redemption! Also, he gives the reason... it was to the praise of the glory of his grace, and it was according to the good pleasure of His will. This passage, and John chapter one are the two passages in the scripture that tell about the farthest reaches of time. The subject of this passage predates Genesis 1:1... IT IS BEFORE THE BEGINNING! The fact, that God's purpose in creation was redemption holds a myriad of implications. Further, that the purpose is to the praise of the glory of His grace, holds even further implications. add to this Ephesians 1:11, and we see that God works ALL THINGS to the council of His will.

So what is written about God's will? In 2Pe 3 we find that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and in John's gospel, Jesus states the Father's will (Jn 6:39-40) as being Jesus, raising up in the last day, all those given to him by the Father, and likewise, all who see the Son and believe would also be raised up on the last day. So think about it. God is sovereign. If he is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, and if He works ALL THINGS after the council of his will... how indeed can anyone perish? I know... I know, you will tell me that there are so many passages about hell, death and Hades, about the lake of fire and Gehenna, but wait a minute... perhaps we should look for other ways to gain meaning from those passages. In fact, that is precisely what is needed. My answer is that in those references, Jesus and others were metaphorically speaking of the impending destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. I am certain beyond doubt that Jesus reference in Mark 9:43-44 relate one to one with Isaiah 66 which is most definitely a prophesy about the destruction of the temple. How can I be certain you ask? By the language link between the two passages. Jesus is referring to Isaiah 66:24 and there is a definite grammatical link that is common among first century Jewish Rabbi's. Believe me, the first century Jews would have known his reference, and they would not have considered it to be eternal torment.

When one is confronted with the idea that redemption was the reason for creation, and that it was to get the creation, to praise God for his grace, it becomes clear that the penal substitution atonement theory is out of whack. God had judged the creation very good in Genesis 1:31, and this was knowing about the fall, the acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil, and ALL that would take place there after. It was humanity that hid from God. It was humanity that covered themselves with fig leaves. God had to shed the blood of a creature, take the skins to cover their shame. Of course, the eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, whether metaphorical, or an actual fruit of a tree, brought judgment. It brought about the ability for humanity to judge itself, him and herself, as evil, and not acceptable to God. It also allowed the entrance of doubt and unbelief. Unbelief in the concept of God. That is the source of the need for redemption. While it is true that humanity must now face judgment as the result of the fall, God has graciously made a way to undo the damage done from the knowledge of good and evil. His solution was redemption, and it was the first thing that we know about God as creator.

Christ was the victor over the knowledge of good and evil, and death. He was willing to die, to confirm his faith in a loving Father that would indeed raise him from the grave. He is living proof that we are eternal, and have an eternal relationship with a loving Father. He aids us by His Spirit to believe the gospel. That is, that God the Father, was in Jesus Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. Notice that Paul did not say reconciling the elect to Himself, no... indeed, God was reconciling the kosmos to Himself. How? By not imputing sin. Further, He made Jesus who did not know the concept of sin, (He always believed the Father) to be made sin on the behalf of humanity, that humanity might then be made the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection restored, redeemed, God's original declaration in Genesis 1:31.

Yes, there is judgment. Yes, we are responsible for our actions, most specifically, our love toward God, and our fellow humanity. Yes, there is justice. But how that operates we do not know for sure. We only can be sure that God's judgment does not end in eternal torture of individuals. We can base that on the fact that God's purpose in creation was redemption, and if God purposed it, you can bet that it will be accomplished! Do not be afraid to think outside the box. Do not fear the labels of heresy. The truth is that I have come to realize that those who hold to strict orthodoxy are actually the false teachers and false prophets. I do not think they are that purposefully. I just think that they do not know any better, and are too frightened by religion to really experience the freedom of real relationship with the Father.

It comes from they way they erroneously look at the scripture and we will address that in Part 3.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Three errors that hinders the effectiveness of the gospel; Part 1

One:
One of the biggest and most debilitating errors that actually does harm to the effectiveness of the gospel message is the explanation and understanding of the transformation process. When Paul says, “and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” he means something very different than most people believe and are taught. The most common understanding, of “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” is a variation on this theme and explanation. Once one is saved, i.e. regenerated, the Holy Spirit will use our reading of scripture to help us understand and supernaturally obey the Law of God. This is also known as the most popular explanation of the sanctification process. In other words, sanctification comes about by reading scripture and applying it, and the application is made possible by the Holy Ghost in a mystical way. In fact, people go so far as to judge that if one cannot see the sanctification process active, i.e., the individual applying the scripture to themselves, they can doubt that the person was really, truly regenerated and saved. This causes fear and doubt in the minds of people who are saved, and furthermore, rather than aiding sanctification, this thought process definitely hinders sanctification.

So how does the Spirit transform you ask? The answer is through the gospel. Yes, you read it correctly, the Holy Spirit uses the gospel to aid in sanctification, and provide the mechanism for “the renewing” of the mind. When Paul says, “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” he most assuredly means having one’s mind renewed to the gospel of grace. The transforming power that the Holy Spirit uses for sanctification is the assurance of the gospel of grace and peace. Paul explained it this way, “therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” It is peace with the Father that generates the genuine love for God that the Holy Spirit uses to transform. This is the reason that Shalom (peace) is such an important concept in Judaism. It was stressed by the Torah to prepare the understanding of the effect of the gospel of grace. Shalom with the Father automatically produces love for the Father. In fact, it is the only way that one can fulfill the first and greatest commandment… “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” If you think about it, this is impossible to keep short of believing the gospel of grace. One can desire to do it, but one cannot perform it without the aid of the Holy Spirit in believing the gospel of grace. That the Holy Spirit enables us to believe the gospel, is precisely the source of the regeneration. Immediately upon hearing and believing the gospel, one has peace with God which in turn wells up into overwhelming love for God. One cannot hear and believe the gospel without overwhelmingly loving God. It is impossible.

So then, as long as one’s attention is focused on the gospel of grace, one’s affection for God is a prime driving force in all that is said and done. I have met so many prophets, evangelists, and self-proclaimed apostles who erroneously believe that the gospel is merely an entry point, a portal to sanctification that is entered once, and set aside for the greater purpose of conforming to the Law of God. For them, believing the gospel is the measure of a baby Christian… it is not the focus of the seasoned saint. The season saint should be focused on the sanctification process, and become more and more Christ like by living the law more and more. Come on now! You know I am speaking the truth here. It is so sad that people teach that one should grow up from that infancy. They should get passed the baptism and regeneration and should get on to the meat. This is such a grave error that it grieves me, and I know that it grieves God, and the Holy Spirit as well. This simply comes from misunderstanding the message, and occasion of the letter to the Hebrews. Getting on to the meat is actually getting on to understanding the gospel of grace in such a way that the Holy Spirit can give us confidence in the effectiveness of the gospel. How did the writer of Hebrews put it? “Hold fast to your confidence that has great recompense of reward. The meat is the NEW COVENANT! The meat is the NEW AND BETTER WAY! The meat is the way that the gospel of Christ can CLEANSE THE CONSCIENCE FROM DEAD WORKS TO SERVE THE LIVING GOD!

Why do people follow after these teachers, preachers and prophets? It is to sidestep the actual sanctification process that comes from believing the gospel. The human mind demands religious practice. The human mind cannot accept the gospel of grace. It seems too simplistic. Surely God demands religious practice to prove and establish worthiness. Surely it cannot be that simple. But that is error. That is erroneous thought. Religious practice is “the way which seems right to a man.” It is the way that leads to death. What death you ask? The death of the spirit… death of real love for the Father. It is a symptom of the killing letter. Only the Holy Spirit, through the gospel of grace gives life to an otherwise dead corpse.

Now is the time… REPENT (change your mind/renew your mind) and believe the gospel of grace!


We will look at the other two errors in subsequent posts, and quite probably will add some insight into sanctification.                

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Declaring the ungodly righteous: A fresh look at total depravity

Romans 4:5 HCSB But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.

In the above passage of Romans, Paul is explaining and justifying imputed righteousness. I encounter so many evangelicals who are skeptical of imputed righteousness, yet, for humanity, imputed righteousness is the only available righteousness. Paul declares in the previous chapter in Romans that by the "works of the Law" NO ONE will be justified. So then, what does it mean "but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous?" It means that people must believe what God declares. This would begin with all that is recorded that God said. Genesis 1:31 HCSB "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day." All that he had made included humanity. God had declared humanity to be good. When Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden, it was because they thought that they were evil. Why did they think they were evil? It was because they did not believe God, and had partaken of the fruit. The serpent had promised Eve the fruit of the tree would make her wise. Paul explained it this way in Romans one..."claiming to be wise, they became fools." The knowledge of good and evil allowed them to doubt God. They were unwilling to accept God's way of being righteous.

Paul states that God's way is not found in having humanity be righteous by works of the law. God's way was to declare humanity righteous, simply because he was God, and he was the creator. Then, if one would simply believe God, God would in-turn credit that belief as righteousness. Words matter, and evangelical theology is so twisted that many times we make words of no effect with our traditions. John writes: John 1:29 HCSB "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" The word for world is kosmos and it means literally the world and everything in it. This includes ALL humans. If Calvinism, and Reformed theology was correct about election, this verse would read "who takes away the sin of the elect." However, that is not what was written. Here again we have a declaration of God uttered through the Prophet John the Baptist.  Jesus was the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the whole world. The question is, do you believe it?

Again, evangelical orthodox doctrine confuses sin and sins. Sin is unbelief. Sins are infractions of Old Covenant Law. Sins are merely a manifestation of a deeper reality. The deeper reality is SIN (unbelief.) The children of Israel of the Exodus, died in the wilderness because of un-belief. They did not believe God when promised them the land. They used the knowledge of good and evil, informed by their eyes and ears, and allowed the fear of what they saw, to prevent them from entering in, and taking the land that God had given them. I think that Total Depravity should be replaced by Total Inefficacy. The true state of the saint post fall is the inability to have faith without the aid of the Holy Spirit. One is not totally depraved, but totally in-efficacious. I think this change is demanded to accurately describe a life without the knowledge of the gospel of Christ. While I will admit that total inefficacy can lead to depraved behavior, even the best person, that tries to be positive and faithful, still has considerable doubt without the supernatural effect of the gospel assured by the Holy Spirit. I admit that the person that has believed the gospel can have doubt as well, but it is different as the Holy Spirit always wins out in the debate. At the end of the day, the one believing the gospel is confidently convinced that she/he is a child of God no matter what.

Even knowing that Jesus took away the SIN of the world, does not diminish the need for the gospel to be rehearsed and proclaimed over and over. It is the way in which the Holy Spirit supernaturally transforms. The one continually hearing the gospel of grace, develops such a deep love for God that it cannot help but transform their behavior. It saddens me so deeply that the main doctrine of evangelical Christianity, so pathetically misses the mark and so adversely misinforms the hearers.



Monday, May 15, 2017

Works of the flesh, or Spiritual Fruit?

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance--as I told you before--that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23 HCSB)

It always amazes me how passages of scripture are totally ignored, especially in their context. Galatians chapter five is certainly no exception. This is a most important passage in its greater context, especially when asking the question that always follows the gospel. What question you ask? How then shall we live? Paul answers the question in verse 16: "I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16 HCSB) What I would like to unpack in this post is what it means to WALK in the Spirit. Paul clearly states that if one is walking in the Spirit they will NOT carry out the desires of the flesh. Why? I believe the answer to be a change of mind.

For the sake of clarity, let's look at the works of the flesh in a bullet list:

  • sexual immorality
  • moral impurity
  • promiscuity
  • idolatry
  • sorcery
  • hatreds
  • jealousy
  • outbursts of anger
  • selfish ambitions
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • carousing
  • all other things similar
When one looks at this list it should become OBVIOUS that much of evangelical doctrine and practice is way off the mark. Paul's main message in Galatians 5 is that the believer is NOT under the Law but under Grace! While he is speaking about circumcision, he is in reality speaking about every fleshly way of being made right before God. The list he gives however, is not an exhaustive list of the works of the flesh. He points out at the end, that it is EVERY fleshly endeavor. Every fleshly endeavor is a work of the flesh. The contrast he makes in verses 19-23 is the between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. First, look at the words works and fruit. Work is something one does and fruit is something that grows naturally.

Now then, if you look at what a new Christian is taught, you would think that the fruit of the Spirit is simply NOT DOING those things on the list. Further, you will find that evangelical doctrine puts most of the emphasis on just a few. The Christian right, seems to believe that selfish ambitions is a fruit of the Spirit, but that is for another post. Isn't it obvious, that all of our religious denominations are factions? That alone renders most of the efforts of evangelical Christianity as a work of the flesh. People in factions are NOT walking in the Spirit! Hmnn----interesting. In case you prefer a different version of the bible, Let me make clear that the Greek word Paul used for factions is hairesis which means sect, or faction.

Again for clarity, look at the fruit of the Spirit in a bullet list:
  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faith
  • gentleness
  • self-control
The fruit of the spirit is made up of qualities not actions. While it is true that the qualities will result in certain actions it is NOT action focused. I also think that fruit singular, and not fruits plural is very significant. They all emanate from truly believing the gospel.  First, it is caused from God's love for us found in Christ. It is in peace with the Father from believing the gospel of grace. This in-turn creates love for the Father, and joy from believing the gospel. The presence of the top three, love, joy, and peace, naturally produce all the rest. It makes the person believing the gospel patient, kind, good gentle, and it also provides self-control. However, it must come from faith in the gospel of grace. This is precisely why it is so important to make sure that the gospel is preached over and over; even to seasoned saints. It is also the reason that the continual preaching against sin is so ineffective, and why all the preachers who do so are so misguided.

This is why the Apostle Paul wrote that he was determined to know nothing among the saints except the gospel, Jesus Christ crucified. This is yet another proof of how far off the mark evangelical Christianity really is. It is also the reason that ALL that ever should be preached by preachers is the gospel. The Spirit uses the gospel to produce its fruit.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spiritual but not religious: Christianity and Mysticism

What is the difference between spirituality and religion? To jump off on this post we will look at definitions of both words:

Religion: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. A particular system of faith and worship.‘the world's great religions’

Spirituality: The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.‘the shift in priorities allows us to embrace our spirituality in a more profound way’ ‘a deep sense of spirituality that connects them to the natural environment’

You hear a lot of people these days saying that they are spiritual but not religious. I think that is equally true of many who claim to be Christian or are believers in Jesus Christ. In the 1970's I read a book by Maslow, entitled "Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences. The point of the book was there were those who followed religion having vicarious experiences of others, and there were those, he called "peakers" who experienced spirituality on their own.

In my view, religion is the structure and form that a spiritual person uses to express their spirituality. Therefore, people who say they are spiritual but not religious really mean that they do not follow another's form of religion. Spirituality is personally experiential and religion is corporately experiential. So when you hear someone say they are spiritual but not religious, what they are saying in effect is my religion is solely experiential. Religion in and of itself is not bad or good. It is merely a way in which to acknowledge ones idea of God and the purpose of life/existence. 

The damaging aspect of religion comes into play when people are forced to follow without questioning, a leader, or a group. They are thereby, often times, forced to actually go against their spirituality to be acceptable to the standard of religion. Moreover, religion tends to give people creeds to believe, know and follow. By creeds I mean a formal set of beliefs that are necessary to adhere to by the group. It creates the atmosphere where there is orthodoxy and heresy. However, orthodoxy and heresy are merely two words that mean either acceptable by the group or not acceptable to the group. Think about that for a minute. Orthodoxy is merely a set of beliefs that have been deemed acceptable by the group.  Still it has such a profound strength for many within religion.

Here is something to consider. Jesus was not orthodox. Paul was not orthodox. Martin Luther was not orthodox. John Calvin was not orthodox. Zwingli, Tyndale, and Menno Simmons were not orthodox. In fact, all of those mentioned above were called heretics. Interesting! You should understand that heresy is merely a word. It is a word used to control and so is orthodoxy, it too is a word mean to control.

Here is something else to consider. A person can be profoundly religious and spiritual, and not conform to the demands of the group. Here is a passage of scripture that those who want to control your life and your purse ignore a lot.... But you have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives within you, so you don't need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true--it is not a lie. So just as He has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. (1 John 2:27 NLT)

Yes indeed, the prime teacher of spirituality is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God. Each believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is continually trying to produce spiritual fruit within us. The fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control.





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Are many evangelicals spiritual jihadists?

Notice right off the bat that I say many and not all evangelicals are spiritual jihadists. A Jihad is a holy war waged on behalf of Muslims,...